“Your squat is off.”
I just said what every coach has thought just about to every day of their coaching career.
We watch people squat all day and think, “they butt wink at the end, gotta fix that,” or “there’s that lateral shift again, time to regress,” or “well they didn’t get below parallel so they hate me now and I suck as a coach.”
But what if the true reality is that there is an imbalance that exists that our athlete can’t recognize no matter how awesome of a coach we are. They walk, run, sprint, bike (unilateral locomotion) and then collapse, I mean sit, in a mostly bilateral position (2 legs on the floor, butt in a chair). So they rarely, if ever, squat except in training.
We need to help them explore the movement and stop trying to address the problem with massively skilled patterns like more barbell squat variations or pistol squat variations.
I have found front foot elevated split squats to be a great way to recognize imbalances AND address them effectively.
- The front foot elevation does not force balance as a component of the exercise like rear foot elevated split squats, RFE SS, require (don’t get me wrong, I love me some RFE SS but not for this)
- The stance is very similar to a 90/90 split squat so you can build on a pattern that already exists
- The elevation of the front foot forces a single leg squatting “feel” with the knee pushing forward and the ankle having to dorsiflex substantially
- If a odd rotation or lack of mobility/balance happens in the squat on one side, it is quickly recognized and can be addressed without changing the exercise
- As you progress an athlete, the elevation can be changed to address a sticking point higher in the squat (less foot elevation) or lower in the squat (more foot elevation)
It has quickly become one of my favorite accessory exercises for lower body days with athletes who struggle with their squat. Try it out on yourself or a client of yours and get your squat back on track!